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    Default 32mm Plossls shootout



    First a bit of history. Like many I have started the hobby with cheap stock Plossls, eventually upgraded to TeleVue Plossls and never look back. They are well known for good performance but 32mm and 42mm are extra wide and pretty heavy. So, when I started building EP set to take on travels with my Onyx 80ED I picked a couple of lightweight Plossls to try: Meade 4000 SuperPlossl 32mm and Baader Classic Plossl 32mm (part of Baader BCO set).

    Over the years there were a few models of TV and Meade Plossls. My TV is the later model, but made in Japan, and Meade is yellow letter version made in China. As far as I know there is only one version of Baader Plossl.

    Naturally, I wanted to see how well (or rather how bad ) they would perform in comparison to TV.

    A few nights ago Orion was sitting in the prime position so I picked Orion Nebula as a target for the shootout. I pointed 8” SCT with TV 32mm Plossl and was rewarded with a great view: M42 occupied all FOV and extended beyond. Faint filaments coming from two wings were well defined, and central portion was filled with fine structure. Next 30 minutes or saw I kept switching between three 32mm Plossls – TeleVue, Baader Classic and Meade 4000 - to compare how well they capture faint outskirts, dark and shaded areas in the bright middle, colors and sharpness of trapezium stars and a few faint stars in the FOV.


    Overall view: First surprise was how well all three Plossls captured the intricate view. I had hard time deciding which view I like better, all three were very close. TV had warmer tones, Meade colder, and Baader most neutral. At the end I had a slight preference for TV with a bit more depth in the view than Meade and wider FOV than Baader.

    Field of View: First obvious thing was narrower AFV of Baader. From my field stop measurements I calculated FOV of 43 deg for Baader and 49 deg for TV. This ~14% was quite obvious. Calculated FOV for Meade was 46.5 deg, only ~5% smaller, and this difference was very hard to catch by eye. So, for the practical purposes I would say the difference in FOV between TV and Meade is negligible.

    Sharpness: Sharpness was judged from how sharp and pinpoint like the stars are. I was pleasantly surprised that all three Plossls delivered superb views. Stars appeared equally sharp with about the same level of scatter control. Different colors of Trapezium stars were well defined in all three, with slight difference in overall tone.

    Contrast: Amount of resolved details in the nebula was about the same for all three Plossls. Looking close at fine details, small differences have emerged. Dark features and areas of different brightness in the nebula were a tad better defined in TV Plossl, and central darker area around Trapezium was noticeably large than in Meade 4000. Baader was between the two in terms on contrast.

    Brightness/transmittance: Central area appeared brightest in Meade and the faint outskirts of the nebula extended a bit further (using field stars as a reference) in Meade than in TV. Once again Baader performance was between the two.

    Weight/size: Typically is not very important. They are Plossls not glass pineapples after all. But if you are short on space in your EP box, or using them in small scope with limited balancing options, slim profile of Baader and Meade and light weight (3.3oz) is an advantage over wide and twice heavy (6.6oz) TV.

    Overall, it was neck to neck performance. All three performed well and you will be happy with either. For very faint targets I would pick Meade. If I am looking for more defined details in large brighter targets I would pick TV. Baader could be a nice compromise though, if you don’t mind a bit narrower FOV.

    Somewhat unexpected outcome in these tests was that there was no clear cut winner. I expected TV to win in all categories, but it only had an edge in contrast, but underperformed in transmittance. Which bring us to the final category:

    Performance to Value: Meade is the clear winner at the list price 2-3x less than other two.
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    Default Re: 32mm Plossls shootout

    I had a similar experience. It was several years ago when I decided to start upgrading my Meade plossls and bought a few TV plossls. I returned the TVs when I saw there was no real upgrade to it. I got some Baader Orthos and I was pleased. I wanted some wider EPs so I got some Hyperions because I really liked the Orthos, but disappointment came again with the Hyperions. Finally I found the ES 82s and 68s and am quite content. I still have lots of EPs, but the ESs and BGOs are what I use.
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    Default Re: 32mm Plossls shootout

    Quote Originally Posted by Ozman13 View Post
    I had a similar experience. It was several years ago when I decided to start upgrading my Meade plossls and bought a few TV plossls. I returned the TVs when I saw there was no real upgrade to it. I got some Baader Orthos and I was pleased. I wanted some wider EPs so I got some Hyperions because I really liked the Orthos, but disappointment came again with the Hyperions. Finally I found the ES 82s and 68s and am quite content. I still have lots of EPs, but the ESs and BGOs are what I use.
    Good to hear that you had similar experience Oz.

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    Default Re: 32mm Plossls shootout

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigzmey View Post
    First a bit of history. Like many I have started the hobby with cheap stock Plossls, eventually upgraded to TeleVue Plossls and never look back. They are well known for good performance but 32mm and 42mm are extra wide and pretty heavy. So, when I started building EP set to take on travels with my Onyx 80ED I picked a couple of lightweight Plossls to try: Meade 4000 SuperPlossl 32mm and Baader Classic Plossl 32mm (part of Baader BCO set).

    Over the years there were a few models of TV and Meade Plossls. My TV is the later model, but made in Japan, and Meade is yellow letter version made in China. As far as I know there is only one version of Baader Plossl.

    Naturally, I wanted to see how well (or rather how bad ) they would perform in comparison to TV.

    A few nights ago Orion was sitting in the prime position so I picked Orion Nebula as a target for the shootout. I pointed 8” SCT with TV 32mm Plossl and was rewarded with a great view: M42 occupied all FOV and extended beyond. Faint filaments coming from two wings were well defined, and central portion was filled with fine structure. Next 30 minutes or saw I kept switching between three 32mm Plossls – TeleVue, Baader Classic and Meade 4000 - to compare how well they capture faint outskirts, dark and shaded areas in the bright middle, colors and sharpness of trapezium stars and a few faint stars in the FOV.


    Overall view: First surprise was how well all three Plossls captured the intricate view. I had hard time deciding which view I like better, all three were very close. TV had warmer tones, Meade colder, and Baader most neutral. At the end I had a slight preference for TV with a bit more depth in the view than Meade and wider FOV than Baader.

    Field of View: First obvious thing was narrower AFV of Baader. From my field stop measurements I calculated FOV of 43 deg for Baader and 49 deg for TV. This ~14% was quite obvious. Calculated FOV for Meade was 46.5 deg, only ~5% smaller, and this difference was very hard to catch by eye. So, for the practical purposes I would say the difference in FOV between TV and Meade is negligible.

    Sharpness: Sharpness was judged from how sharp and pinpoint like the stars are. I was pleasantly surprised that all three Plossls delivered superb views. Stars appeared equally sharp with about the same level of scatter control. Different colors of Trapezium stars were well defined in all three, with slight difference in overall tone.

    Contrast: Amount of resolved details in the nebula was about the same for all three Plossls. Looking close at fine details, small differences have emerged. Dark features and areas of different brightness in the nebula were a tad better defined in TV Plossl, and central darker area around Trapezium was noticeably large than in Meade 4000. Baader was between the two in terms on contrast.

    Brightness/transmittance: Central area appeared brightest in Meade and the faint outskirts of the nebula extended a bit further (using field stars as a reference) in Meade than in TV. Once again Baader performance was between the two.

    Weight/size: Typically is not very important. They are Plossls not glass pineapples after all. But if you are short on space in your EP box, or using them in small scope with limited balancing options, slim profile of Baader and Meade and light weight (3.3oz) is an advantage over wide and twice heavy (6.6oz) TV.

    Overall, it was neck to neck performance. All three performed well and you will be happy with either. For very faint targets I would pick Meade. If I am looking for more defined details in large brighter targets I would pick TV. Baader could be a nice compromise though, if you don’t mind a bit narrower FOV.

    Somewhat unexpected outcome in these tests was that there was no clear cut winner. I expected TV to win in all categories, but it only had an edge in contrast, but underperformed in transmittance. Which bring us to the final category:

    Performance to Value: Meade is the clear winner at the list price 2-3x less than other two.
    I think the Meade 32mm is the only 32mm Plossl I don't have lol. I more or less concur with your assessments. I do like the TV due to ergonomic reasons though and it is a nice eyepiece to use with its large eye lens and field stop. I have Celestron (Barsta) and GSO 32's and I think the GSO has a slight edge in faster scopes.

    IMG_20170727_191101.jpg

    I'm also pretty convinced the Barsta 32mm has a slightly smaller FOV than the GSO.

    IMG_20170412_120518.jpg

    If weight/balance is a factor, the eyepiece I keep returning to is a 30mm Vixen NPL. Although the 32mm BCO is as bright, sharp and clear if I need even less weight.
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    Default Re: 32mm Plossls shootout

    Hello Bigzmey,

    and thank you really very much for your shootout!
    Your report is coming at the right time, as I wanted to replace my 32mm Meade Super Plössl (Japan) with something more sophisticated, now I will keep the old Meade and forget the replacement.

    I have got the Meade more than 20 years ago from Sauter's in München, and at that time Sauter's has been pretty picky what to sell and what not to sell, in order not to loose the customers.

    This 32mm Meade Super Plössl (Japan) is not a Plössl.
    A check I have made right now with a new thinner green laser pointer reveals the lenses grouping (1-2-1), with a hardly recognizable cement in the middle doublet.
    Hence the doublet seems to have been manufactured with the highest precission polish and figure,
    to get practically touching surfaces, eliminating a wave distortion and scattering in otherwise often seen thick cements.
    That's a precision we not always find on the today's astronomy eyepieces.

    Best,

    JG
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    Default Re: 32mm Plossls shootout

    Thank you for this fine comparison Andrey. I have only the one Mead/GSO plossl in 40mm, my longest eyepiece, and it does quite well. The background sky in it is a bit brighter then my other longest eyepiece, but the stars are nice Sharp pinpoints.
    Thanks again for this well written review of these EP. Even I could understand it. :-)
    Cheers.
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    Default Re: 32mm Plossls shootout

    Quote Originally Posted by j.gardavsky View Post
    Hello Bigzmey,

    and thank you really very much for your shootout!
    Your report is coming at the right time, as I wanted to replace my 32mm Meade Super Plössl (Japan) with something more sophisticated, now I will keep the old Meade and forget the replacement.

    I have got the Meade more than 20 years ago from Sauter's in München, and at that time Sauter's has been pretty picky what to sell and what not to sell, in order not to loose the customers.

    This 32mm Meade Super Plössl (Japan) is not a Plössl.
    A check I have made right now with a new thinner green laser pointer reveals the lenses grouping (1-2-1), with a hardly recognizable cement in the middle doublet.
    That grouping suggests that it is a Konig I. It would be suggested more strongly if the eye lens were a touch concave. Kong's designs are rather nice!

    Hence the doublet seems to have been manufactured with the highest precission polish and figure,
    to get practically touching surfaces, eliminating a wave distortion and scattering in otherwise often seen thick cements.
    That's a precision we not always find on the today's astronomy eyepieces.

    Best,

    JG
    Yes, it sounds like this is a keeper, certainly.
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    Default Re: 32mm Plossls shootout

    Is there any significant difference between the Meade plossls with white or yellow letting on them? It seems you can find 4k super plossls with either.

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    Default Re: 32mm Plossls shootout

    Quote Originally Posted by not_Fritz_Argelander View Post
    That grouping suggests that it is a Konig I. It would be suggested more strongly if the eye lens were a touch concave. Kong's designs are rather nice!



    Yes, it sounds like this is a keeper, certainly.
    Hello not_Fritz,

    the eyelens looks slightly concave out, to me. So, the König might be plausible.

    Thanks for the comments,

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    Default Re: 32mm Plossls shootout

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Alvarez View Post
    Is there any significant difference between the Meade plossls with white or yellow letting on them? It seems you can find 4k super plossls with either.
    I don't know. Without examples to dissect..... Since Meade is calling things that are closer to Konigs super Plossls, dissection would be required.
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